After a week of entries analysing world religion and the search for Elvis, it’s time to get back to the real world. Or, as real as my world is, at any rate.
I’ve been a little lax with the Revolution updates recently. Last week and the week before were a bit of a struggle, but my resolve held strong(ish). I managed to drag myself backwards through the briar patch naked. Twice. 16 points, 2 weeks in a row.
Achieving the minimum necessitated going for a bike ride at 9pm on 3 separate occasions. In autumn. Now I know that what I call autumn isn’t any big deal for a lot of you. Especially if I add that our overnight minimums have been around 12-15ºC (54-60ºF). But living where I live, I don’t have a great storehouse of thermal clothing. In fact, I don’t have a single item of thermal clothing. The first night ride I wore a t-shirt under my jersey. The second, I added arm warmers. The third, I wore lycra tights that weighed an extra couple of kilograms because of 15 years worth of dust that had accumulated (the ab workout from a solid hour of sneezing has to be experienced to be fully comprehended).
Weight loss was a totally different story. It comes, it goes. In the greater scheme of things there’s more going than coming, but all in all it’s been pretty flat for the past 6 weeks. I’m about to give my system a big surprise (more in a moment), so the weight will start disappearing like I’ve been getting eating lessons from Lara Flynn Boyle.
I used to be a trackie.
Back in the olden days I referred to myself as a track rider. And I suffered all the phobias and nuances that went along with it. Hill climbing – I didn’t like it. Hill climbing – I didn’t do it well. Riding in the rain – I didn’t like it. Riding in the rain – I didn’t do it. Riding in the rain – velodromes remain closed when it rains.
In my search for fitness and a return to the glory of my youth, everyone has read the chronicles of my re-entry to the world of cycling. But I have become a different kind of bike rider. One of my higher end goals was to return to racing in October when the track season opens. I’ve hit a couple of benchmarks lately and last week I decided that I would head to the velodrome for club training so October didn’t catch me standing flat footed. I made the relevant phone calls. I downloaded the relevant forms. I signed the fat cheque for membership. I stayed up for 3 hours dismantling, cleaning and lubricating my 16 year old (as new) track bike. On the right day, at the right time, I drove 45 minutes in the pouring rain to the velodrome. Please refer to the previous paragraph for what happens at velodromes when it rains.
So, I’m still not a member of the local bike club, but the cheque is in the glovebox of the car – ready.
More smart training.
To further enhance my fitness I ventured out early Saturday morning to tag along with the club’s group ride, affectionately known as the coffee grind. As is traditional with me, I was about 3 minutes late. But that’s OK because I was arriving from the direction that the ride starts out and I just turned around and jumped on the back of the 70 strong group.
This ride is identified as 50km (30mi) “at a fairly fast pace, especially when the riders can smell the coffee”. When the pace lifted, the condition of my legs meant I should have been in the first or second group, except the condition of my waist line conspired with gravity forcing me to participate in the back half of the seething mob. This was a blessing in disguise, as I encountered a school friend that I hadn’t seen for many years. We rolled along and chatted, passing some people and being passed by others as the wind and hills alternated between favouring and hindering us.
Suffering for the cause.
I had ridden 16km (10mi) to the beginning of the group ride, 50km (30mi) of the ride and was still faced with the return journey, so stopping at the coffee shop at 8:30am was a blessing. I caught up with some other faces I recognised then my friend and I rolled off for our respective homes. The coffee refuelled my legs and I decided to ride with him to say hi to his wife and parents. His home was 25km (15mi) away and sadly, into a stiff headwind the whole way.
At this juncture I should identify my riding partner, Darren Lawson. You can see the height of his cycling career here. Just scroll down to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics cycling team. Apart from representing his country at the Olympics, Darren was in numerous state teams and was a member of the Queensland Team Time Trial team that won the national title 4 consecutive years. It was no big deal to be riding next to a superstar like him. We had done that for a decade through the ‘80s and into the ‘90s. His parents actually introduced me to the sport. I took his sister out on a date once. There was a lot of catching up to do.
As we rolled along in complete agreement that the headwind sucked immensely, I noticed something very exciting. Our conversation wasn’t flowing very smoothly. Not because of any awkwardness, but because of the gasping for air. And it wasn’t all me, this former Olympian was puffing like a fat man climbing stairs.
Just so you know… I ventured out yesterday to test myself again by going head to head with my own personal Mount Everest. Sunday’s effort was a great improvement over the first attempt. This time my average heart rate was down by 2 beats per minute for the climb which means I was slacking off a bit. But I didn’t use the granny gear at all this time. It was where I lived last time. Strangely, my time to the top was 3 seconds slower. But I felt much stronger and less stressed. I even attacked some of the steeper sections out of the seat.
Next visit I’m going to dismiss 2 granny gears and set a minimum speed. If I drop below the minimum I will be required to change up a gear and get out of the seat for 20 seconds. That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
The big surprise (for my body).
My posts have been averaging barely better than 2 per week of late because right now today I am attending the last of my lectures for this semester. Next week is exam time, with 3 exams spaced equally over 3 weeks and then a 4 week break before next semester starts.
I’m a nocturnal academic, so my body is in for a big surprise. The next 7 weeks are going to be full of 2, 3, 4, and even 5 hour rides. This is the first time in a sixth of a century that I will carry fitness into a “free time” period of my life. When I was working it was normal to have a big surge while on holidays but have no resolve when the daily routine of dragging myself to work came back into play.
This is my big chance. It’ll be winter, but that doesn’t mean anything around here. Overnight minimums of 5ºC (41ºF) and daily maximums of 12ºC (54ºF) are the worst of it. I’ll just see the kids off to school at 8:30am and hit the road at 9am. And stay away until they’re due home. That, along with an Australian version of Fatty’s Stunt Diet™, should see me drop another capital.